Auckland, Mar 6: Having beaten two minnow teams after a disastrous start in the tournament, an unpredictable but dangerous Pakistan take on formidable South Africa in their crucial cricket World Cup match here tomorrow, knowing fully well that a loss could put them on the brink.
Pakistan are precariously placed after losing to India and the West Indies in their first two matches and a victory tomorrow in the Pool B game at the Eden Park would save them from being placed in a difficult situation for a quarterfinal spot besides boosting their confidence.
The 1992 champions would want to prove a couple of points against the Proteas who are on a roll after suffering a comprehensive defeat against India.
Pakistan have been beaten by the Proteas in all their earlier three World Cup meetings (1992, 1996, 1999) and they would want to tick a win, besides also posting their first victory against a big side in this edition.
South Africa, on the other hand, would try to continue their strong showings, having won three of their four matches and coming off the back of two totals of 400-plus.
But, they will be up against the most challenging attack they will face in group stages, a Pakistan line-up laden with left-armers and laced with aggression.
A win tomorrow will virtually seal a quarterfinal berth for the Proteas. It was just three matches ago that South Africa's unbeaten World Cup record against India was broken due a fragile batting line-up.
But, the Proteas have responded in a magnificent fashion after that forgettable batting show with captain A B de Villiers leading the charge. De Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis have scored hundreds in the last two games. De Villiers has been in astounding touch during his 66-ball 162 against the West Indies on February 27, the fastest 150 in ODIs.
Tomorrow's match could be decided by who bats better in a tournament fast turning out to be a 'batting World Cup'. Both sides are traditionally strong in bowling department though Pakistan will be hoping that their spearhead Mohammad Irfan regains full fitness after injuring a hip muscle in the match against UAE. Coach Waqar Younis was confident the seven foot fast bowler will be fit for tomorrow's match.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez (injured, replaced by Nasir Jamshed), Sarfraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla (vice-captain), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.
Match starts at 6 30 AM IST